Was the NFL the Gateway Drug for Playboy?

I wonder when neurological scientists will study the effects on the brain of watching football on the Lord’s Day. Until then, these conclusions look shaky (even a tad reductionist along materialist lines — but, hey, it’s our reductionism):

We now see the effects of having it “all out there now.” We can see how the constant exposure to pornography is not just eating away at our souls but is quite literally highjacking our brains.

In 2011, Struthers wrote an article for Christian Research Journal that explains the effects of porn on the male brain.

“Because the human brain is the biological anchor of our psychological experience, it is helpful to understand how it operates,” he wrote. “Knowing how it is wired together and where it is sensitive can help us understand why pornography affects people the way it does.”

Here’s a simplified explanation: Sexually explicit material triggers mirror neurons in the brain. These neurons, which are involved with the process for how to mimic a behavior, contain a motor system that correlates to the planning out of a behavior. In the case of pornography, this mirror neuron system triggers the arousal, which leads to sexual tension and a need for an outlet.

“The unfortunate reality is that when he acts out (often by masturbating), this leads to hormonal and neurological consequences, which are designed to bind him to the object he is focusing on,” Struthers wrote. “In God’s plan, this would be his wife, but for many men it is an image on a screen. Pornography thus enslaves the viewer to an image, hijacking the biological response intended to bond a man to his wife and therefore inevitably loosening that bond.” (For more on this see “9 Things You Should Know About Pornography and the Brain.”)

Imagine if neurological scientists tried to measure lust in the heart. And what about those long lasting effects of images of football players kneeling during the National Anthem on a Christian’s loyalty to the God-ordained powers?

The full story has yet to be told.

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Mark Driscoll is to Ray Rice . . .

what Tim Keller is to Roger Goodell.

At least that’s how TKNY’s quotation in the New York Times story about Driscoll occurred to me:

A front-page story in The New York Times on August 23 had suggested that Driscoll’s empire was “imploding.”

“He was really important—in the Internet age, Mark Driscoll definitely built up the evangelical movement enormously,” Timothy Keller, the senior pastor of Redeemer Presbyterian Church in New York, told the Times. “But the brashness and the arrogance and the rudeness in personal relationships—which he himself has confessed repeatedly—was obvious to many from the earliest days, and he has definitely now disillusioned quite a lot of people.”

So like the NFL with Ray Rice, the gospel allies knew about Driscoll’s antics well before his pseudonymous comments went public. I know I have blogged about this before, but where was Kathy Keller with her b-s detector on this one? Why didn’t the most gospelly guys in the room warn the rest of the Christian world about Driscoll’s problems?

Maybe they need to take a page out of their savior’s playbook and call people (especially religious leaders) “fool” or “hypocrite” once in a while. If they want to start with me, their move.

W-w is Hard

Well, there’s the brother-in-law who thinks he’s a chicken:

Some things are more important than football. A lot of things are more important than what kind of nasal strip a particular player wears while he plays football. I have written before about how image-obsessed the NFL relative to racial issues; these recent events have offered even more evidence of this imbalance. As players commit horrible crimes and sustain life-altering head injuries, the league regulates how long their socks must be. Caught up in minutiae, it has missed the more important things.

Welcome to the NFL, the league run by Pharisees.

Then’s there’s I and I need the eggs:

Catholics in the Windy City are smiling. In fact, all Chicagoans are happy right now.

Things are looking up, and there’s reason for hope.

Wait, what? New archbishop? What are you talking about?

DAAAAA BEEEAAARS!!!

The Old Testament Solution to the NFL's Ray Rice Problem

Don’t fire him. Keep him on the team and playing with the starters.

Let me explain.

I have yet to see anyone opine that this imbroglio reflects the ongoing problem of race relations in the U.S. but I am not sure why. When did professional sports’ servant leaders come down as hard on white players or managers who also beat their wives? Or when did the public outrage become as heated over white incidents of domestic violence as in this case of Ray Rice? I’ll leave the African-American pastors to figure this one out, but I could see them making a plausible case — except, a big exception, that it is hard to turn Ray Rice into a victim.

But he is (and so is his wife) in a way. Everyone well knows by now that the NFL reversed its decision on Rice once the video went public. Then and only then did the NFL and the Ravens need to save face (in a way that can’t be good for the Rice marriage). And despite the hypocrisy that all those with logs in their own eyes can see in the NFL’s timely dismissal of Rice, most of those same viewers will be right back in the stadiums and in front of their televisions this Thursday night and Sunday afternoon (unless they are Old School Presbyterians), looking past those logs. We Americans love our moral purity even as much as we adore a sport that is riddled with hypocrisy. And here’s the kicker — the hypocrisy of the NFL depends on the hypocrisy of football fans. I assume most fans will be glad for the harsh penalty against Rice, and now will feel the league has achieved enough moral balance to permit ongoing viewing, betting, and fantasy league managing. They may not know it, but unless they give up the game, the NFL’s fans are as much implicated in this face saving as the league’s commissioner, Roger Goodell.

The Old Testament way of handling this would not have been to seek relief by cutting losses or players. It would have been to treat Ray Rice like King David. After David’s affair with Bathsheba and the death of her husband, Uriah, what happened to David? Things went south in the family and he and the Israelites suffered for his infidelity. But he remained the dominant figure in the OT narrative, even to the extent that Matthew shows Christ’s genealogical ties to David. What is striking about Matthew’s birth narrative is that he also mentions Uriah. Like the Hebrew narratives, Matthew does not try to shield readers from knowing the worst about their biblical heroes. At the same time, those biblical heroes remain heroes despite their failings.

Americans cannot handle such truth. George Washington never lied. And then he owned slaves and there goes American greatness. Abraham Lincoln was a devout Christian. He has yet to come down from that pedestal (except in certain sectors of the South) even though Lincoln’s beliefs were pretty squishy. The NFL is a great league with a great product. But heaven forbid that the league employs a wife beater as one of its stars.

The best punishment for Rice’s crimes would have been to have him still part of the team and part of the weekend television package. That way the NFL would have had to suffer, along with Rice. And fans would have had to experience the strange mixture of revulsion and delight, offended by Rice’s behavior off the field and ecstatic over his football success. Oh, wretched people that we are.

Who Said Moral Relativism Is Increasing?

EaglesSports talk radio is not the best entertainment but it sure beats Glen, Rush, and Sean beating up the Obama administration. Listeners in Philadelphia have listened to forty-eight hours of casuistry while Eagles’ fans process the reality of Michael Vick being added to the roster. After serving two years in federal prison for molesting and killing dogs in dog-fight related activities, Vick has been cleared by the NFL to play and the Eagles swooped him up. For a sampling of the moral outrage, check this out.

Now if only we could convince football fans that an unborn child is higher on the chain of being than a pit bull.